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The Take

Written By: - Date published: 9:21 am, March 8th, 2009 - 23 comments
Categories: video, workers' rights - Tags: , ,

Following my post yesterday about the EPMU’s film on the recession, Socialist Aotearoa has alerted me to the fact The Take is now available on Google Video.

In suburban Buenos Aires, thirty unemployed auto-parts workers walk into their idle factory, roll out sleeping mats, and refuse to leave. All they want is to re-start the silent machines.

With The Take, director Avi Lewis, one of Canada’s most outspoken journalists, and writer Naomi Klein, author of the international bestseller No Logo, champion a radical economic manifesto for the 21st century..

Just the thing for a lazy weekend.

23 comments on “The Take”

  1. Thank you for that one. I’ve always wanted to watch this doco. Naomi Klein is an awesome journalist. Funny how synchronisity strikes as you least expect it. As you where writing this post I was showing my husband the short version of the Shock doctrine a phrase coined by Naomi Klein in relation to the economic teachings of Milton Friedman.

    As we are watching the events unfold around the demise of the ACC it pays to remember that Milton Friedman was a good friend of Don Brash and most likely to have been an inspiration of both Don Brash’s and John Key’s view on how to run a country. Shock and Change, Shock and Change, Shock and Change. Like Naomi Klein I believe the only way to fight them is to educate ourselves and educate others as to what the Shock doctrine entails and how it is used as a weapon.

    Those brave Argentinean workers are an example to us all let’s hope we take that lesson and teach it to others. Especially those who are losing their jobs and need to know why.

  2. antisocialisttosspots 2

    As we are watching the events unfold around the demise of the ACC it pays to remember that – ACC is unaffordable in its current guise due to incompetent stewardship under Labour.

    [lprent: Out of context troll lines that are essentially assertions given without engaging your brain are grounds for a banning. Read the policy. You have now had your warning.

    Update – it is gaylord. Now upgrading to permanent ban]

    • lprent 2.1

      Bullshit.

      John Armstrong puts it most clearly

      To win those future battles, Smith first has to convince the public that ACC really is in financial crisis. That is a matter of some debate. In the late 1990s, ACC was altered from a pay-as-you go scheme to a fully funded one that took into account future-year costs from current claims.

      The idea was to fund ACC in such a way it could build up reserves and use the resulting income to reduce the total cost over the lifetime of a claim than would be the case with pay-as-you-go.

      By Act of Parliament, the lifetime cost of all claims is supposed to be fully funded by 2014. This plan has foundered somewhat by ACC finding itself in the jaws of the international credit crunch. Like other institutions, ACC has taken a bath in terms of investment returns.

  3. Matt 3

    Brilliant stuff! And that line near the end about Argentina being a preview for the rest of the (neoliberal) world is looking more and more accurate by the minute.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; we need to basically ignore the placiating front being put forth by the Andrew Littles and Gareth Morgans out there, and stand up for ourselves. Unions are a great thing for workers, but when they become co-opted by the bosses, the members themselfs need to remember who the union is for, and act accoringly. The Take provides not only a blueprint for doing this, but also shows the strength of collective, direct action by workers and the community.

    As we’re seeing more an more every day, the bosses-class is totally gutting what is left of the production sector in NZ, and the EPMU is basically saying that they will consult with the bosses to ensure that the sackings are as fair as possible.

    What would you rather have–control, or the word of a beurocrat?

    Fight back!

    • Daveo 3.1

      How is the EPMU or any other democratic union hijacked by the bosses? Did it ever occur to you that the majority workers simply aren’t at the stage of revolutionary socialism, and that maybe unions in NZ are more in touch with their members than you are?

  4. Glad to be of service, comrades.

    But the Take is no longer science fiction for the political left, and the tactic of occupying factories no longer a hollow slogan looking back to the 1930s.

    Here are some factories that have been recently occupied by workers in other countries gripped by the crisis-

    PRISME occupation, Dundee, Scotland:
    http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/art.php?id=17304

    Waterford Glass, Ireland.
    followed by second occupation at Element Six, Shannon.
    http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/art.php?id=17240

    Republic Windows and Doors, Chicago.
    http://www.ueunion.org/ue_republic.html

    as the job massacre in Aotearoa increases in intensity, socialists will be leafletting factories in the frontline with information about these inspiring examples of resistance. All it takes is one workplace to resist, and then the good example can spread like wildfire, like it did in Argentina. If you’re interested in leafletting with us, get in touch with Joe at 021 1861450, email solidarityjoe@yahoo.com

    Solidarity
    SA.

  5. I guess the factory is owned by John Galt.

    Who is John Galt?

  6. “All they want is to re-start the silent machines?”

    You should be a hollywood writer, Tane!

  7. matthew red 7

    Deluded

  8. Pat 8

    If workers taking over factories is such a good idea, then why not discuss a few real life examples:

    Izard/Irwin factory in Wellsford. The factory isn’t closing down, and not all staff have been laid off. Won’t some physical interventionist action by the laid off workers place the other workers jobs at risk? (Answer: Yes)
    How do the laid off workers enable the company to increase it’s overseas sales of a specialist product so that the wage bill of all employees is covered? (Answer: They can’t)

    Sealord factory in Nelson (assuming it closes down entirely). Laid off workers reocuppy the factory, turn the processing machines on, and wait for …. all the fish to turn up from somewhere? Anyone else spot the problem?

    It all sounds a bit Animal Farm to me.

  9. cha 9

    Or the other ‘take’.

    Respectfully, you guys are totally misunderstanding something crucial in the AIG bailout: Derivatives claims are not stayed in bankruptcy. (Yet another brilliant innovation from the 2005 bankruptcy reform legislation.)

    If AIG were to go down, derivatives counterparties would be able to seize cash/collateral while other creditors and claimants would have to stand by and wait. Depending on how aggressive the insurance regulators in the hundreds of jurisdictions AIG operates have been, the subsidiaries might or might not have enough cash to stay afloat. If policyholders at AIG and other insurance companies started to cancel/cash in policies, there would definitely not be enough cash to pay them. Insurers would be forced to liquidate portfolios of equities and bonds into a collapsing market.

    In other words, I don’t think the fear was so much about the counterparties as about the smoking heap of rubble they would leave in their wake.

    Additionally, naming AIG’s counterparties without knowing/naming those counterparties’ counterparties and clients would be at best useless, and very likely dangerous. Let’s say Geithner acknowledges that Big French Bank is a significant AIG counterparty. (Likely, but I have no direct knowledge.) BFB then issues a statement confirming this, but stating it was structuring deals for its clients, who bear all the risk on the deals, and who it can’t name due to confidentiality clauses. Since everyone knows BFB specialized in setting up derivatives transactions for state-affiliated banks in Central and Eastern Europe, these already wobbly institutions start to face runs. In some cases this leads to actual riots in the streets, especially since the governments there don’t have the reserves to help out. If you’re Tim Geithner, do you risk it? Or do you grit your teeth and let a bunch of senators call you a scumbag for a few more hours?

    [lprent: fixed the bad anchoring]

    • Snail 9.1

      thks for link, cha, been a while since reading TPM’s Josh.. the point, however, being the relevance of ‘informed’ commenters.. time for a look at that 05 legislation..

  10. cha 10

    wont let me edit?

  11. Cameron 11

    ‘Sealord factory in Nelson (assuming it closes down entirely). Laid off workers reocuppy the factory, turn the processing machines on, and wait for . all the fish to turn up from somewhere? Anyone else spot the problem?’

    That actually is a serious problem that must be dealt with. There could be a possibility that many firms not under workers’ control would refuse to trade with the liberated factories.

    In Argentina they overcame that problem because so many firms in different types of industries were occupied. Also the recovered factories movement had huge public support.

    Factory occupations and workers control are still are a very good idea. However like anything in life, there are problems that must be worked through.

  12. Pat 12

    Cameron – sacking the bosses ensures a steady supply of fish?

    For a factory to operate you need certain inputs, in this case a supply of fish and a demand for the sale of said fish. You can sack the bosses and flood the factory with as many workers as you want, but if you don’t address those key input issues (the probable reason why the workers were laid off in the first place) then none of the workers are going to get paid.

  13. Pat 13

    “Factory occupations and workers control are still are a very good idea. However like anything in life, there are problems that must be worked through.”

    Another problem is the fact that someone owns that empty factory – not necessarily the same company that sacked the workers. The owner of the factory has the right to find an alternative tenant. He has a legal right to evict workers who may be squatting on the premises in the hope their company re-hires them.

  14. Cameron 14

    Whoops looks like it posted my original post, not my edited one that was much more clever. Here is my more intelligent comment below.

    “Sealord factory in Nelson (assuming it closes down entirely). Laid off workers reocuppy the factory, turn the processing machines on, and wait for . all the fish to turn up from somewhere? Anyone else spot the problem?

    This is a serious problem that must be dealt with. There is a strong possibility that factories not under workers’ control would refuse to trade with those that are.

    The Argentines got over this problem because there were so many occupied workplaces, in a range of industries, so they could all trade with one another. Also the occupied factories movement had huge public support.

    I think despite this problem, factory occupations and workers’ control are still a very good idea. However, like anything in life there will be problems to work through.

  15. Pat 15

    lprent – for some reason I cannot refresh the pages. Once I read a post, I cannot read any subsequent comments on that post unless I restart my PC. Maybe you have installed some anti-annoyance software that infects the usability of The Standard by so-called Right Wing Trolls like me.

  16. rave 16

    The workers in Argentina usually took over abandoned factories and won the right to own them collectively in lieu of unpaid wages. This is a good example for workers threatened with closure and redundancy. It should be applied to the clothing workers employed by Pacific Brands. It should be accompanied by the demand to nationalise the company under workers control so that instead of the workers owning is as part-owners, all workers own it.

    Ultimately the question about whether an occupied or nationalised factory can continue to keep producing depends on whether you think the capitalist market is god or not.

    In the case of Sealord and Irwins, workers are getting sacked because the market for fish or saw blades is failing. That is the capitalist market which operates on supply and demand. Yet the capitalist market is not the best way to allocate scarce resources like fish (being sold to middle class Asians and being fished out while millions starve). It depends on getting a return on investment and therefore short-term decision about what to produce or not.

    Scarce resources need to be nationalised so that decisions about what to produce and for whom can be made by the workers taking decisions in workers councils in every community. Production of all commodities would need to be planned as a whole so that everyones needs were met, not some bankers in Boston or Tokyo.

    The skilled workers at Irwins are the ones producing the value. They like the Pacific Brands workers should call on the government to nationalise (bail out is the bosses term) the factory and put it under the control of the workers who would like the Argentinian workers be capable of running the factory, inventing new products, producing for swapping with resources NZ does not have. Instead of free trade for profits we would have trade free of profits.

    Maori own Sealord. Instead of partnering with a Japanese corporation, they should partner with countries where they can trade fish for vital commodities like oil completely bypassing the capitalist market and the monopolists that control these markets. Venezuela is an example. Instead of being bit players in the giant monopolies plunder of scarce resources, Sealord could swap fish for steel produced by the nationalised Sidor works in that country.

    Time to throw away the capitalist market, it has outlived its usefulness by about 100 years, and its time is up. Bailing out bosses wont keep the system going because our money just goes into their pockets. Then can only survive by closing down factories and sacking us and then making us shut up.

    Let the banks go bust. Demand instead that our bail out money goes into bailing out the fishing industry, the clothing industry and any other industry where we can produce good commodities that are needed by workers.

  17. Bill 17

    Any business needs a variety of skill inputs. Some of those skills have been deliberately limited to extend no further than current bosses. So rather than fire the bosses, is it not better to disestablish the position, keep any willing individual on board and utilise their skills, while committing the business to skill sharing?

    That way institutional knowledge is not necessarily lost. Plus, because of skill sharing, the formally ‘guarded’ knowledge gets spread around resulting in no one person being indispensable.

    On the viability front, sure there might be no fish to process although I reckon there is and it’s more a question of failing to net ever fatter profits that has led to lay offs.

    And there will be workplaces that nobody in their right mind would want to take over…at least, not to continue with the same service or product manufacturing…McD anyone?

    And then there is the will. Is the will there? Or do most workers prefer to work under direction and avoid decision making? If forced by desperate circumstances can we expect much in the way of progress to genuine worker control? Or should we expect a habitual default to some version of current workplace relations? Via nationalisation perhaps?

  18. rave 18

    Bill, On the question of ‘will’ I think The Take has some good lessons.
    In Argentina workers occupied and still run many factories. Before they did that they went through hell, self-doubt, family breakdown, you name it. Then they decided to start to fightback. They started off blocking the roads in their home towns and as the movement gained numbers and confidence took on Buenos Aires. You can see the same developments in The Take. As they screw up the courage they become a strong force.
    Workers in NZ too have no easy answers but when faced with a right wing bankers government, mounting unemployment, fire at will, being stood down by WINZ, kids miserable, it becomes a choice: either rot in misery, or stand up and fight.
    By firing bosses I mean the owners, not necessarily the owner/operators who are often working on an overdraft to make the bank rich. Managers and supervisors etc will prove which side they are on when required to teach their skills to others and divide the pay equally.
    Even fatter profits? In normal times maybe. Then workers get sacrificed for machines etc. At Sealord they are expecting fewer workers on board to do the work of the onshore factory workers. Its hard times not fat profits that is driving this.
    Yeah McDs could be turned into childminding centres with decent free food.
    How far workers go can’t be known in advance. I am not pessimistic. If workers all around the world are already into action, occupying, striking, rioting, then how far they go depends on the level of organisation, coordination and determination not to pay for the crisis. Its my belief that if this crisis gets as deep and as long as many are predicting then more and more workers will come to see that its “us” or “them” . That for us to survive, capitalism has to go.

    For sure the bosses know this. In China the ruling party has issued instructions to the police when facing the growing riots of workers laid off in their millions, to exercise “discipline and restraint”. They know there is no way the army can stop millions of enraged workers.

    • Bill 18.1

      We’re more or less in agreement Rave, but rather than bank on immiseration I’d like to see some sort of push right now to get (some) unions to take the whole possibility on board and develop blue prints as it were….develop mechanisms of support, develop and promulgate the necessary knowledge and point out pitfalls to be avoided.

      I realise that when push comes to shove there are unions that are going to seem more aligned with the bosses than with workers. But, if not the unions, then is it not down to people like you, me and whoever to kick-start a ‘knowledge bank’ or whatever that workers can refer to in the event?

      I’ve said it before in previous comments but I’ll say it again. The legislation exists in NZ to allow worker self management and many of the systems necessary to maintaining genuine worker self management are known if not widely known about.

      Are you interested in helping to bring it all together in a comprehensive fashion and making it accessible and usable?

  19. rave 19

    Bill, I am at both levels (which have to integrated).
    Ive been a unionist for 40 years, I always make the distinction between the union bureaucracy and union rank and file.
    I’m also into education. I remember about 30 years ago teaching classes on Marxism at WEA one of the casualties of Rogernomics.

    There is nothing stopping those in unions who want to fight getting together and putting everything on the internet and holding regular meetings around the country to push the agenda of workers control/workers’ management. I has to be done through the unions because that is the only way to organise workers on the job where they have the power to change things.

    The campaign against the 90 day Act being driven here in Auckland by Socialist Aotearoa and the Unite union is a good place to start. This is the cutting edge of National’s attack on workers which is the essence of their whole damned politics. This campaign is part of a larger united front in Auckland “We won’t pay for their crisis”.

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